Kyrgyzstan: Revolution Revisited
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Constitutional reform, stamping out criminal influences from law enforcement, encouraging foreign investment, and securing beneficial partnerships with both Russia and the US. Sounds good on paper, but how have the Kyrgyz government’s promises played out in reality?

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Civil Liberties
Though once called Central Asia's "island of democracy," Kyrgyzstan had a mixed record on civil rights under ousted President Askar Akayev (1992-2005). In 2003, the Constitution was modified to grant President Akayev enormous power; in 2005, a law limiting freedom of association was passed. Media harassment was routine. The country's 2005 uprising raised expectations that the new government would promote a diversity of opinions, but how has its performance ranked to date?
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Constitutional Reform
Rights advocates largely saw Kyrgyzstan's 2003 Constitution as an attempt by then President Askar Akayev to retain power. Election by party lists was abolished, a unicameral parliament established, and the number of parliamentarians reduced. Since the March 2005 uprising, Kyrgyzstan's new leaders have pledged themselves to constitutional reform. The issue is seen as a key test of the leadership's commitment to democracy.
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Corruption
Corruption is seen by many as Kyrgyzstan's greatest plague. The problem fuels a growing crime rate and hampers economic development. It is also regarded as one of the causes of the 2005 popular uprising. A 2006 World Bank report ranked Kyrgyzstan with Albania as the most corrupt of the 32 countries the organization surveyed for 2002-2005; a 2005 rating by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International gave Kyrgyzstan a grade of 2.3 out of a possible corruption-free score of 10. Graft has become such a part of the country's political and business cultures, that some politicians describe the ill as a virtual philosophy.
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Economic Growth
The months of instability that followed the March 24, 2005 events had a detrimental effect on Kyrgyzstan's economy. Contrary to the projected three percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for 2005, the economy instead shrank, a development largely attributed to the Tulip Revolution. Economic development was one of the leading promises in President Bakiyev's 2005 presidential campaign; it has now become a critical goal for 2006.
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National Unity
Social tensions escalated after the 2005 uprising, posing a new threat to Kyrgyzstan's fragile stability. The rift between north and south, where the Revolution began, appears to widen. The alliance between southerner Kurmanbek Bakiyev and northerner Felliks Kulov is intended to smooth over these differences, but divisions still remain. In June 2006, the country's ethnic Uzbeks, the largest ethnic minority, begin to lobby for recognition of Uzbek as an official language. At the same time, with jobs still scarce, many Russian-speakers are opting for migration.
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Organized Crime
Business investors and the international community have long been worried by the reported division of Kyrgyzstan into spheres of influence among supposed criminal bosses. Fighting crime was one of the main promises of the new government, and has proven to be a rallying cry for NGOs and opposition alike in recent rallies.
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Strategic Ties
For gas, investment and trade, landlocked Kyrgyzstan depends on good relations with its neighbors, as well as the United States, Russia, and China. The result has been a delicate balancing act. Although the country's post-revolution government maintains that it will stay the course with these three regional power players, some observers note an emerging tilt toward Russia.


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